Paul Brown (MW or TR)
Summary and Response
This is a Sample Summary and Response
In his article "Making the Grade," Kurt Wiesenfeld presents a problem regarding the ethical value of grades in modern society. A physics professor, Wiesenfeld opens the article by making the "rookie error" of being in his "office the day after final grades were posted." (paragraph 1) Several students then attempt to influence him to change their grades for the class. What concerns Wiesenfeld is that many of his more recent students consider a grade to be a negotiable commodity rather than accept the grade as an accurate representation of efforts and performance and how much they ...view middle of the document...
Kurt Wiesenfeld's article, "Making the Grade," presents the social issue of grades. The author explores the extent of this problem by examining the social environment in which these students were raised. Wiesenfeld also addresses the changing attitude towards what a grade represents and the true value of a grade. The author effectively uses several writing strategies to engage the reader, influence the audience and illustrate how much thought he has given this issue. The essay is organized by a logical progression from thesis to individual claims and the author provides real-world examples for the issues. With those real-world examples, Wiesenfeld explains how serious the problem can become and demonstrates why the issue should be addressed.
Wiesenfeld makes use of intended effect, word choice, figurative language, sentence structure and selection/omission of details to create a compelling essay. He introduces the ideas by placing the reader with him on the day after turning in final grades for the semester. As an experienced academic, he "should have known better" than to make such a "rookie error." (paragraph 1) That opening is good example of the intended effect strategy because it influences the reader to think that they will also know better after finishing the article. By the end of the third paragraph several students have confronted the professor about their grades. Some show up in person, some try email and still others leave phone messages. Most have some reason or other for why, but even those who don't think they deserve a better grade would like one anyway. When Wiesenfeld presents his thesis in paragraph four, the reader knows that this new knowledge concerns the value of grades.
The author also makes good use of word choices and figurative language to help the reader visualize situations and problems presented in the article. Wiesenfeld employs connotation to emphasize the problem: "In a society saturated with surface values" the "benefits of fame and wealth are more obvious" than the "eccentric" ideas of knowledge for its own sake. (paragraph 8) The author first uses "saturated" to describe how society places all the emphasis possible on "surface values" that can be obviously displayed. In using the word "saturated" the author makes the reader imagine a sponge that has soaked up all the liquid it possibly can. What he means is that society puts too much emphasis on surface values—so much emphasis, in fact, that nothing else seems important. When the author uses the word "eccentric" to describe the love of knowledge he influences the reader to imagine a person who is a bit silly, or behaves outside what is considered normal, or has just plain lost their grip on reality. By utilizing the contrast between these connotations, Wiesenfeld illustrates the tension that exists between these two different points of view—one side is seeing the surface level and the other side is focused on what that surface level thing, the...